OAP's anger at financial plight
AN ANGRY pensioner has told the EADT how a "disgusting" rise in her weekly rent will force her to raid her savings just to survive.Peggy Hume, who lives in sheltered housing in Woodbridge, said she had decided to speak out to raise the plight of many other OAPs in a similar position to herself.
AN ANGRY pensioner has told the EADT how a "disgusting" rise in her weekly rent will force her to raid her savings just to survive.
Peggy Hume, who lives in sheltered housing in Woodbridge, said she had decided to speak out to raise the plight of many other OAPs in a similar position to herself.
Miss Hume will have to pay £69 weekly rent from next month - an increase of £7 - on top of a £24-a-week council tax tariff.
With a weekly pension of just over £80, Miss Hume said she has to fork out more than £50 a week from her savings just to buy food and clothing.
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The 68-year-old, a tenant of the Suffolk Heritage Housing Association, is not eligible for any benefits because of her savings.
"I am quite disgusted," she said. "Just because I've saved a little money I'm suffering, and I'm sure others are as well.
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"Whatever you've got in the bank, you won't have it for long - the savings I do have are going down at the rate of over £400 a month.
"I wish I had gone and blown the lot because then I would be in a better position. Soon I shall be on benefits - are the Government crazy?"
Miss Hume, who suffers from epilepsy, said she is concerned that the stress of the situation may cause the condition to flare up.
"I really don't need the worry from something like this otherwise it will start up again," she added.
"Someone has got to make them realise this can't go on. They might call me a trouble maker, but I'm not going to stand back and take this."
Miss Hume's plight has been recognised by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, who last night pledged to try and help her.
"People with relatively small savings are clobbered for every penny," Mr Gummer said. "Those who have saved during their lifetime get no help while those who have saved nothing, even though they could have done, get everything.
"It is deeply unfair that people should be in this position. Miss Hume is a constituent of mine and I shall be looking into this.
"I will be talking to her to see what I can do."
And Jack Thain, chairman of the Suffolk Pensioners' Association, added: "I'm certain that pensioners who have saved money during their lives are being taken advantage of - they are being taken for a ride.
"This sounds like a curious situation, and it's something I'll be looking into."
Caroline Smith, operations director for Suffolk Heritage Housing - which owns around 7,500 properties across East Anglia - explained that their rents were centrally controlled by the Housing Corporation.
She also stressed the company was a non-profit making organisation, with money being ploughed back into maintaining and improving the housing stock.
Mrs Smith said: "We have controls which say to us that we have target rents which we should be charging.
"By 2010 we have to meet these target rents and most people have been paying under what they should have been.
"We do have a tenants' association and they were consulted about this. Our rents are not exorbitant at all, compared to those in the private sector.
"Everybody who will get an increase can apply for housing benefit, and for those who would qualify these increases will be covered."